A weak night of TV. Australians had ended their viewing by 7.30pm, as the top six programs were all news or current affairs programs. It tailed away from 7.30pm onwards. Sunrise again won the breakfast battle — 362,000 in the metros against Today’s 323,000.

Last night’s ratings confirmed the rightness of Nine’s decision to return the The Verdict in 2016. Not because of its inherent quality (that remains variable as last night’s effort showed) but because it is another broadcast media outlet willing to chance its arm on the discussion of topical issues. But the program will need a makeover, starting with a much larger studio. The one used at the moment at Nine’s Willoughby HQ is too small: ideal for the NRL Footy Show and faux debates for 60 minutes and A Current Affair, but not for a public-based discussion program wanting to cement itself in the public’s consciousness. So far it has sounded the audience has sounded small and puny.

The second change would be to find guests who have something to say, not the same group of regulars with the stirrer in chief, Mark Latham, sitting there as the go to man to get discussion underway or the audience involved. Campbell Brown, the former AFL player, is a dead weight as a permanent guest. He’s good for the odd occasion, not every Thursday night, please. I know they want to be different to Q&A on the ABC, but its strength is the diversity of people that program has as guests and the views and topics they are raising/discussing. The Verdict’s panel seems set in stone, we know what they are going to say, we know their positions – it is boring TV that will quickly outwear its tentative welcome.

The final change is change the host. So long as Karl Stefanovic does the Today Show the program is anchored to Sydney and on a Thursday night (he can afford a late night Thursday and the early start Friday by having a long sleep on Friday night). At the moment that makes the program too Sydney centric and too focused on talent from Sydney and perhaps Melbourne at a pinch. Q&A goes travelling (Toowoomba last Monday) and it grabs people from here and visiting Australia. It is the program willing to take a chance (as we have seen several times with controversy). The Verdict will become a predictable Sydney-based effort with the rest of the country locked out. The Verdict saw a rise in its audience numbers last night, the first since its start — it had 417,000 metro viewers, up from 360,000 a week ago and 369,000 a fortnight ago. Nationally, its audience rose to 596,000 last night from 538,000 a week earlier. Nine will have to improve the offer to viewers, in a way retailers have to make their offers to customers interesting/arresting every day and week.

Network channel share:

  1. Seven (28.5%)
  2. Nine (26.2%)
  3. Ten (21.7%)
  4. ABC (18.4%)
  5. SBS (5.2%)

Network main channels:

  1. Seven (17.7%)
  2. Nine (17.4%)
  3. Ten (14.7%)
  4. ABC (12.1%)
  5. SBS ONE (4.2%)

Top 5 digital channels: 

  1. 7TWO (6.2%)
  2. GO (5.3%)
  3. 7mate (4.5%)
  4. Eleven (3.9%)
  5. ABC 2, Gem (3.6%)

Top 10 national programs:

  1. Nine News — 1.260 million
  2. Home and Away (Seven) — 1.202 million
  3. 7pm ABC News — 1.158 million
  4. Seven News — 1.158 million
  5. RBT rpt (Nine) — 1.046 million
  6. RBT (Nine) — 1.008 million
  7. A Current Affair (Nine) — 997,000
  8. 7.30 (ABC) — 994,000
  9. Seven News/Today Tonight — 910,000
  10. The Chase Australia (5.30pm) (Seven) — 893,000

Top metro programs: No program had a million or more metro viewers

Losers: TV viewers. Is it Christmas/New Year already? A second PR special on Seven called Mighty Cruise Ships? Walk the plank folks.Metro news and current affairs:

  1.  Seven News — 916,000
  2.  Nine News — 909,000
  3. Nine News (6.30pm) — 880,000
  4.  Seven News/Today Tonight — 869,000
  5. A Current Affair (Nine) – 858,000
  6. 7pm ABC News – 821,000
  7. 7.30 (ABC) — 675,000
  8. The Project 7pm (Ten) — 551,000
  9. Ten Eyewitness News — 433,000
  10. The Project 6.30pm (Ten) — 433,000

Morning TV:

  1. Sunrise (Seven) – 363,000
  2. Today (Nine) – 323,000
  3. The Morning Show (Seven) — 159,000
  4. News Breakfast (ABC 1,  87,000 + 41,000 on News 24) — 128,000
  5. Mornings (Nine) — 120,000
  6. Studio 10 (Ten) — 48,000

Top five pay TV channels:

  1. TVHITS  (2.6%)
  2. LifeStyle  (2.4%)
  3. Fox 8  (2.1%)
  4. UKTV(1.9%)
  5. Crime & Investigation (1.8%)

Top five pay TV programs:

  1. NCIS (TVHITS) — 67,000
  2. The Simpsons (Fox8) – 57,000
  3. Arrow (Fox8) — 52,000
  4. Chicago Fire (SoHo) — 50,000
  5. Alvin!! And The Chipmunks (Nick Jr) — 47,000

*Data © OzTAM Pty Limited 2013. The data may not be reproduced, published or communicated (electronically or in hard copy) in whole or in part, without the prior written consent of OzTAM. (All shares on the basis of combined overnight 6pm to midnight all people.) and network reports.

Peter Fray

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